Datuk Seri Garry Chua, President of Malaysia Retail Chain Association (also Group Managing Director of Rotol Group and Founder of Chakri Palace)
Datuk Seri Garry Chua, President of MRCA (also Group Managing Director of Rotol Group and Founder of Chakri Palace) recently expressed his concerns for the economy of Malaysia and the financial situation of businesses and retailers, as the Movement Control Order (MCO) is further extended till 14th April 2020. After a rocky 2019, Covid-19 took the world by storm and left businesses facing huge losses. Datuk Seri Garry Chua stressed that this financial crisis is very serious and should be treated as such. The economic downfall should be addressed immediately, and steps should be taken in securing and ensuring that businesses are able to sustain themselves for the 6 months at the very least. Datuk Seri Garry Chua also mentions that "We must all work collectively and support one another in this dire situation".
According to Prime Minister YAB Tan Sri Dato' Haji Muhyiddin Bin Haji Mohd. Yassin in his announcement today, the government has allocated RM530 million to introduce a tiered-discount with rates ranging between 15% and 50% depending on electricity usage with a maximum limit capped at 600 kilowatts per month. The 50% discount will be rendered to electricity consumption below 200 kilowatts per month, 25% for electricity consumption between 201 – 300 kilowatts; and 15% for 301 – 600 kilowatts. The Government will subsidize RM600 per month to working citizens earning less than RM4,000 and for business owners that have seen a 50% drop in profit since 1st Jan 2020. Employers will have a choice towards their contributions to KWSP, they could either defer, restructure or reschedule the payments. Apart from that, the government has also announced that Income Tax payments will be delayed for 3 months beginning 1st April 2020. The Prime Minister mentioned that there will be an exemption in taxes for banking loans in Malaysia until the period of moratorium is over. RM5 Billion is allotted as loans for SMEs and Entrepreneurs.
Datuk Seri Garry Chua does praise the Prime Minister for his efforts in allocating RM250 Billion in the Economic Stimulus Package and for proffering an adequate amount to support the citizens of Malaysia that fall under the category of B40 and M40, however he feels the government’s efforts towards SMEs are inadequate. He stated “People will not care if the Government is short on funds as it is their duty to produce funds for businesses and people alike, just like how we are forced to remunerate taxes.”
Datuk Seri Garry Chua expresses his concerns, “Although RM250 Billion is a decent amount and it definitely aids Malaysian citizens that are under the B40 and M40 division; not enough attention was given to SME’s and it is disappointing. While businesses are trying to make ends meet with the given support from the government, they are nonetheless still struggling.”
Businesses during MCO
He comments that although the KWSP payment deferment is excellent and would help many, the announcement for this was late and should have been applied in March when the country was about to go on lockdown. In addition to that, reduction or exemption of SST was not mentioned by the Prime Minister. Most people would agree that during this catastrophic situation, SST can be delayed for a short period of time.
Datuk Seri Garry Chua comments regarding the salaries paid to employees. He cherishes his staff and wants to ensure every employee can keep their jobs. If businesses close down, the unemployment rate would most definitely go up. With no income on top of commitments from statutory payments, it is unquestionably challenging for companies to pay the salaries of their entire workforce. Datuk Seri Garry Chua says that “A subsidy of RM600 is insufficient for companies with little to no income, even more so for companies that are required to pay the salaries of over 20 to 100 staff. Retail Chain members easily have a workforce of over a thousand”. He suggests that the Government to subsidize 50% of the employees' salary, while the remaining is discussed upon with the employees.
Pavilion, the Sunway malls, Sungei Wang and more have announced free rental of 14 days to all retailers due to the pandemic. Datuk Seri Garry Chua believes that it is only fair that free rental should be given to all retailers throughout the entire period of the MCO now that it has been extended. He fears the worst for the next few months and appeals to for a 50% discount on rentals for the next 6 months, to allow retailers to get back on their feet. He also urges industry leaders that are not affected directly by the Covid-19 outbreak to offer more help to the public as well as businesses. Tenaga Nasional Berhad should subsidize at least a minimum of 30% off electric consumption for businesses and malls especially, in order for them to be able to reduce prices on rental for retailers. Banks do not suffer heavy profit loss and should show their support by giving a 50% discount on interests on top of the 6-month moratorium.
Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and retailers constitute over 40% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Malaysia and should be given all the support they need to sustain their businesses. The loan process can take a long time to be approved and it is a tedious procedure, which can lead to businesses falling deeper into an economic struggle and might even be forced to shut down. The RM5 Billion allocated for loans towards SMEs should be disbursed in an easy and efficient manner. Datuk Seri Garry Chua claims that businesses require 6 months in order to achieve stability and another following 6 months for businesses to return back to normal. He also states that SMEs are the backbone of our country and if they’re not given adequate support, it can wreak havoc on our country’s economy. With that out of the way, businesses could once again contribute and build the economy of the country
Group Photo taken by the Council Members of Malaysia Retail Chain Association back on 13 Feb 2020